New whip rules apply in France from Feb 1st

31 January 2017

A set of new rules about use of whip will be enforced in France from February 1st, with the maximum number of strokes allowed restricted to 6 from 8.

From February 1st in France, jockeys striking their mount more than 6 times will face a penalty. It has already passed successively from 12 to 10, then from 10 to 8 a decade ago.

France Galop stewards recommend a tighter set of penalties. Up to now, riders were fined a minimum 75 € for 9 to 10 strokes, 150 € from 11 to 14 strokes, with a suspension for more serious offenses, let alone consecutive abuse. There is only one threshold now: a minimum fine of 75 € for 7 to 10 shots, and a suspension from the 11th stroke.

Director of racing at France Galop, Henri Pouret explained: "We have the feeling that the jockeys now fully understand the necessity to address such issues seriously. It can also be noted that there has been continuous improvement in the ranks of our riders and that they generally respect these rules. The number of offenses remains relatively low: a fine for 15 races on average at national level last year. What is new is the understanding that this trend will continue to prevail and that one day the use of the whip might become preventive only."

Padded whips or soft-whips, which are the only allowed in France, make more noise than harm. However, the mere gesture of the jockey may continue to upset members of the public, especially when racing is widely broadcast on television.

New recommendations

Until February 1st:

  • 8 to 10 strokes: minimum fine of 75 €
  • 11 to 14 strokes: minimum fine of 150 €
  • 15 strokes and more: minimum 6 days suspension 

From 1st February:

  • 7 to 10 strokes: minimum fine of 75 €  (2nd offense: suspension for 1 day or more)
  • 11 strokes and more: minimum 6 days suspension

France Galop stewards also stated: "During the race, any jockey who uses his whip in a brutal way when his mount is obviously no longer able to get an allowance will be liable to a suspension" , while they also warn that "misuse of the whip behind the starting stalls" is also reprehensible.